City at a Time of Crisis



Tracing and researching crisis-ridden urban public spaces

in Athens, Greece.

The use of such a hygienic discourse by the state officials in question is far from coincidental. Utilising the legacy of at times popular theories of degeneration [1] and relying upon the promotion of a stricter dogma of security –– in face of the risk of social deregulation caused by the economic crisis [2] –– they attempt to rejuvenate the mechanisms of national meaning-assignment on the basis of an abstract public security threat while they utilise, at the same time, the concrete characteristics and dynamics of familiar, stereotypical approaches. The historical importance of the hygienic discourse is, after all, unquestionable: both for the purpose of self-cognition and representation of the “inseparable and healthy” national body and for the legitimisation of policies of control and technologies of security [3]. It is in this cognitive environment that one ought to seek some basic interpretations of the explosion of the racist phenomenon, which has been observed on a national level, primarily during 2012. The hygienic metaphors and the introduction of nosology in the sphere of the production of politics comprise the penultimate field for the legalisation of violence, as Susan Sontag explains in the context of the military metaphors of cancer [4] –– regardless of whether the axis for the articulation of such violence is developed vertically (see: the state) or horizontally (see: the society). They have the unique capacity to act parallel, at two different levels: first at the physical-material level, which is where the illness appears and inhabits, where one can observe its materialities and its transmissibilities, and where the material results of the historically tried and tested techniques of exclusion and control are inscribed. Second, and at the same time, at a symbolic-political level –– at the heart of which one can rightfully introduce its weighty “truth”; utilising the unquestionable evidence that the clinical perception of the illness carries with it and assigning essentialist content to the forms of politics, therefore articulating them through the well-known catastrophic syntax of emergency.

On 2nd February 2013 Cheick Ndiaye's body was found on the rail tracks of Thissio metro station in central Athens. A friend, who was a witness states he saw Cheick being pushed to his death by two municipality police officers who were chasing him. Cheick was a migrant from Senegal.



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About Us

City at the Time of Crisis is a research project tracing and researching the effects of the ongoing financial crisis on urban public spaces in Athens, Greece. Read more...